“Public Lab was founded in the wake of the 2010 BP oil disaster. During the spill, there was an information blackout for residents of the coastal region, as well as the rest of the world. No one was accurately tracking what was happening on the ground. In response a group of concerned residents, environmental advocates, designers, and social scientists lofted “community satellites,” made from balloons, kites and digital cameras, over the spill to collect real time data about its impact. Local citizens collected the images, and through a newly created open source platform, contributors stitch over 100,000 aerial images into maps of the coastline before, during, and after the oil spread. These high-resolution maps were featured by BBC and New York Times, among others, allowing residents to speak their truth about what was going on in the Gulf Coast.
The success of the grassroots mapping effort galvanized the group to found Public Lab as a new research and social space for the development of low-cost tools for community-based environmental monitoring and assessment….”